Annual Report 2018

WageIndicator Foundation, Annual Report 2018

Abstract

Transformation from content- to database driven operations: If anything. work in 2018 was dominated by a great, yet silent, transformation effort. All systems were reviewed, databases built or updated, automation completed were it had only been in its infant stages, and content was deleted where obsolete, updated when necessary. Migration of all websites from Plone 4 to 5 was part of this major undertaking. As a result by the end of 2018 all WageIndicator websites perform faster, both desktop and mobile, than ever before. The system as a whole feels lighter, is modestly but consistently restyled in its entirety, and dead wood - content leftovers - has been removed. This involved reviewing hundreds of thousands of web pages. 

This massive operation led to a temporary decrease in traffic. Thus the combined traffic figure of 3 million during the month of April slumped to 2 million during July. But by then all websites and their many pages had been silently migrated to the new CMS and the cleaning plus restyling in its aftermath was under way. By November 2018 figures approached 3 million again and expectations were that thanks to their improved performance and greater reach (particularly on mobile) traffic figures would continue to rise across the board. It should be mentioned here too that loss of traffic implies loss of income - which was all part of the bargain. 

Yet, most importantly, in particular in countries where internet is weak still and/or among those who rely more on mobile devices, the outreach of WageIndicator has received a boost.

Preparing for the final jump: All this work at the back end of operations, simultaneously meant preparation for the big geographic jump planned for 2019. In terms of the near-global coverage that will result, it might as well be termed the final jump. It will proceed along the language groups English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, 35 countries in all. These include also smaller island states. Their inclusion should be finalized after 6 months. The next step will include 15 countries where Arabic is (one of) the official language(s). The 10 remaining countries on the list all need extra attention/translations, given the singularity and uniqueness of their national languages. This is why their inclusion is prudently postponed to 2020. Thus, as things stand now, by the end of 2019 this whole operation would bring the total of effectively participating countries in the WageIndicator system to 150, from 92 in 2018.

‘Effective’ participation means that all national websites will draw and elaborate on: Salary Survey, Cost of Living Survey, Minimum Wages, Wages in Context databases. And a least 110 countries out of these 150 will have a full fledged Labour Law section. 

Database-driven websites : Adding countries was no priority in 2018. Yet, on the basis of the technical foundation for expansion to 150 countries laid in the previous year, now each country that joins its ranks the national WageIndicator website can be equipped with a fast and full fledged Minimum Wage database too, brought to its current level of sophistication in the last quarter of 2018. 

The Living Wage Series, comprising 68 countries up till now, saw light in July 2017. In 2018 it was followed up by 2 new editions, i.e. in January and December. Both academic circles and the first multinational enterprises have shown a keen interest in Living Wage comparisons over time and across borders. 

In 2018 a milestone was reached with 100 national Decent Work Checks. Decent Work Checks also have proven to serve as the basis for applications WageIndicator uses in the field. Good examples of such use are the highly successful Decent Work Check-survey and related Factory Pages in Indonesia and Ethiopia (see section below).. 

The availability of databases across WageIndicator countries in 2018 was: 

  • 81 countries have a Salary Check 
  • 117 countries in the Minimum Wage database 
  • 68 countries can show a Living Wage 
  • 93 countries run Labour Law pages from the database 
  • 101 countries have an offline Decent Work Check
  • 54 countries in the Collective Agreement database
  • VIP-database in 85 countries

Innovation: worker-driven social responsibility: Time and again WageIndicator analyses from a host of countries show that compliance with labour law is a tedious affair almost everywhere. Therefore the Gajimu Factory Pages-project that WageIndicator ran for the second year in Indonesia merits special attention. It seems to hold a promise to remedy the sorry state of affairs when it comes to compliance. Equipped with a special questionnaire stored on tablets, interviewers trained by the local team approached workers from a selection of factories in the garment sector on Java, in close consultation with counterparts on the ground, very often trade union activists/officials. Per factory at least 30 workers were interviewed. Data was uploaded soon after and elaborated by the international backup team. Here of course the sophisticated WageIndicator online infrastructure proved its worth by showing results in a matter of days only. 

These results were presented on the Factory Page of the particular factories targeted. The next step was for the local team to take: it presented its findings to the factory management and tried to discuss the results. Possible wrongs detected might be remedied on the spot, tedious issues which remain might lead to ensuing publication on the national WageIndicator websites.The approach developed in Indonesia could be made good use of half a year later in Ethiopia already. It therefore seems that WageIndicator is on track to instrumentalize compliance with prevailing labour law, by drawing on its databases for tools that can be tailor-made, country-, industry-, or even factory-specific for the purpose. This approach has been aptly called worker-driven social responsibility. 

Organization remained stable: To build, maintain and make use of its extensive infrastructure efficiently, WageIndicator relies on a team of professionals working across many countries. During 2018 year the team remained stable, no major changes in personnel had to be made. In its day-to-day work the team relies heavily on the internet. Continuous efforts are made to improve planning, development and communication processes. As in previous years, in 2018 too, WageIndicator organized team building meetings. An online innovation are the Happy Hours on Friday when team members from around the globe exchange views, talk over a virtual drink and share emotions. In addition prestigious international conferences, e.g. ILERA in Seoul, saw WageIndicator contributions. 

Finances: Current projects and respective contributions to the overall revenue were:

  • Transparency through mobile internet. Enabling apparel workers and employers to check, debate, negotiate and publish wages and working conditions online - C&A Foundation. April - 2017- August 2019. Total Euro 539,270
  • Mywage.org/Ethiopia for living wages in the garment sector - FNV Mondiaal - 2018-2019- 2020 -granted; Euro 124,000 
  • BARCOM - With innovative tools for bargaining support in the commerce sector (BARCOM) - European Social Dialogue. Through University of Amsterdam/AIAS - till April 2018 

 

Projects Proposed in 2018 which came through in 2019:

  • Extension C&A Foundation - Transparency through Mobile Internet, (Gajimu - Factory pages project) for April - August 2019, Euro 45,000 
  • Extension Mywage.org/Ethiopia for living wages in the garment industry - extra Euro 20,000 

 

Projects Proposed in 2018 by WageIndicator Foundation and University of Amsterdam/AIAS-HSI jointly: 

  • SSHOC project - indirect, 3 years - start January 2019 - Euro 130,000 
  • COLBAR project - European Social Dialogue - 2 years - start April 2019 - Euro 150,000

 

The result before taxes came to a deficiency of € -4,315 compared to € -44,637 in 2017; against a budgeted result of € -17,325. This negative result is deducted from the general fund, accumulating to a total of € 122,527 per end of 2018. The bank and cash balances per year end are € 200,000, just slightly less than in 2017 (€ 203,000). Per end of 2018, outstanding advance payments and debtors amounted to € 53,000 as against € 37,000 per end of 2017. Short term liabilities increased from € 122,000 per end of 2017 to € 134,000 per end of 2018. The combined effect is that the liquidity position was slightly reduced, but remained secure. 

 

 


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